Utah School District Seizes Lunches from 40 Elementary Kids with Unpaid Bills


After realizing that some students’ had outstanding balances on Monday, a child-nutrition department snatched up the meals of as many as 40 students at Uintah Elementary in Salt Lake City. The lunches, which had already been distributed to them from the cafeteria, were not only seized from students with negative balances but thrown in the trash by school authorities.

The students were then ever so graciously handed an orange and given milk instead.

“She took my lunch away and said, ‘Go get a milk,'” fifth-grader Sophia Isom told KSL. “I came back and asked, ‘What’s going on?’ Then she handed me an orange. She said, ‘You don’t have any money in your account, so you can’t get lunch.'”

“It was pretty traumatic and humiliating,” Sophia’s mom, Erica Lukes, told the Salt Lake Tribune. “I think it’s despicable. These are young children that shouldn’t be punished or humiliated for something the parents obviously need to clear up.”

An onslaught of criticism has hit the school’s Facebook page. District officials have been denounced for their “heartless” and “inhumane” behavior, with many calling them bullies on a power trip.

The Salt Lake City School District later attempted to mitigate the situation, posting an apology to Facebook:

Unfortunately, children are served lunch before they get to the computer for payment. The children who didn’t have enough money in their accounts had their normal food trays taken from them and were given the fruit and milk.

This situation could have and should have been handled in a different manner. We apologize…

We understand the feelings of upset parents and students who say this was an embarrassing and humiliating situation. We again apologize and commit to working with parents in rectifying this situation and to ensuring students are never treated in this manner again.

By Charisma Madarang

Charisma has an undying love for gritty literature and drinks coffee like water. She also hails from Toronto, Canada and is a die-hard Maple Leafs fan, sigh.

13 replies on “Utah School District Seizes Lunches from 40 Elementary Kids with Unpaid Bills”

Says Sophia’s Mom: “It was pretty traumatic and humiliating. I think it’s despicable. These are young children that shouldn’t be punished or humiliated for something the parents obviously need to clear up.”

Well then clear it up! Your child wouldn’t have been “punished or humiliated” had you kept up with the payments on her school lunches.

Heartless and inhumane behavior? Hardly. I’m not agreeing with what they did. They should have just gone ahead and let the kids eat their lunch. I mean, they threw it out. What’s the difference between that and letting the kids eat it? All they did was waste food. But the bottom line here is it wouldn’t have happened in the first place if the parents had paid their bills.

Food isn’t free, the schools have to pay for it somehow. And I think this was a lesson geared more towards the parents than the kids. They’re basically saying “Don’t be a slackass. Pay your child’s food bill or start packing their lunches instead.”

It’s not rocket science. As for the kids feeling ashamed or humiliated over such an incident, they’ll get over it. Life is full of hard lessons. And in this case, the kids have every right to go home and kick their parents’ asses.

However, the schools made the mistake of giving them the food in the first place! To take it back is not only food now being WASTED as it won’t be reserved but it also goes against “feed every child” in ALL US public schools! is that rocket science? No, it’s as stupid as Los Angeles school district doing it in September. The schools get a BUTT LOAD of government subsidiaries for the cafeteria food programs. Is a lunch fruit and milk???? Have you tried an orange and milk lately as your lunch? These cafeteria monitors are getting way to police state!!

That’s why I said they should have gone ahead and just let the kids eat the food. They tossed it out anyway. What sense does THAT make?

And this is the first I’ve ever heard about lunches being completely taken away. Except for the story about the girl’s sandwich being replaced by chicken nuggets. However, whether they get government money or not, it’s up to the parents to make sure their kids have enough money for lunches. My son’s school has a little deal where they will email me to keep me informed of how much money he has in his lunch bank. When it gets low, I make a payment to add more funds. I’m sure not all schools have this convenience, but I personally think that a lot of parents DON’T pay the lunch fees in an attempt to see how many free meals their kids can get away with.

And if all I had for lunch was an orange and some milk, I seriously doubt I’d starve to death. Have I tried milk and an orange for lunch before? Yes, lots of times. Protein, calcium and vitamin C. It could be much worse.

I’m so damn sick of people thinking they can get a free ride and then when their attempt fails, they cry their children were bullied or humiliated. It’s time to put the big boy/big girl pants on and live in the real world.

There’s no proof that anyone was attempting a free ride. That’s your own projection. Also, this would have been traumatizing and humiliating for these kids and that wasn’t appropriate, especially for kids this young. I’m sure if someone did something like this to one of your snowflakes you would be down there organizing a march and petitions.

I didn’t say there was proof. That was simple speculation.

And if you had bothered reading my other comments in depth, you would have possibly noted that I said there was no reason to snatch the food out from under the kids’ noses.

But perhaps you comment before you fully read. Whatever the case, you’re entitled to your opinion and I’m entitled to mine. Was it right to take the food away from the kids? No. Again, LIKE I STATED ABOVE, if they just tossed the food out anyway, there was no damn reason to yank it away from them. But if parents would pay the food bills, it’s quite possible that wouldn’t have happened.

Since you obviously never make any mistakes and you lead a perfect life, adding any alternate commentary such as maybe sending a letter or making a phone call instead of punishing the kids, would be pointless. Your vitriol and contempt is beyond belief.

And how do you know that letters and/or phone calls weren’t already sent/made? It’s quite possible that’s why they did this, because any attempts at contacting the parents went unresolved.

Ya ever think of that?

Whoa! What happened? I’m talking to myself in here, LOL. Looks like Miss/Mr Hotpants got her/himself deleted. Guess that’s what happens when you’re immature enough to resort to name-calling on the internet. That’s so 20 years ago.

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